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Bryan O'Lynn

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Performer: Puffet, John
Place Collected: Lechlade
Date collected: Between 1913 and 1916
Collector: Williams, Alfred
Roud Number: 294

A curious song with a possible long pedigree.  The play “The longer thou livest, the more foole thou art,” registered 1569, has the lyric

Tom a lin and his wife, and his wives mother
They went ouer a bridge all three together,
The bridge was broken, and they fell in,
The Deuil go with all quoth Tom a lin.

Variants on the hero’s name include Tom Berlin/Boleyn, Bolinn, Tam o’ the linn, and even Old Sam Naxey and Old John Wallis.  In some cases he is a ‘gentleman born’ and in others a ‘Scotsman born’.  Be that as it may, versions have turned up on both sides of the Atlantic even well into the 20th century.


Notes by Gwilym Davies 17 March 2016